Location: North West, 226 kilometres away from Colombo
Area: 2002 square kilometre (Island)
Avg. Temperature: 30 °C
Avg. Annual Rainfall: 780 mm
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is known for its fort which was built by the Portuguese in 1560, then taken in 1658 and rebuilt by the Dutch. Traditionally, the town was renowned as a centre for pearl fishing. Remnants of the historical developments attract many tourists who are interested in the history of Sri Lanka.
Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park is unique in its wildlife and vegetation. It is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where the Baobab thrives. Native to Africa, the tree was brought by Arab sailors to feed their camels. Although camels are not found in Sri Lanka, the Baobab tree has adapted to growing in this area and other areas in the country which climatically resemble Mannar. Mangroves, Thorny Shrubs and endemic Herbs are among the other plant species. Climatically it is hot and dry and rainfall is scarce.
The Gulf is home to 3600 species of fauna and flora, making it one of the richest coastal regions in Asia. Numerous species of Fish, Dugongs, Sea Turtles and Dolphins are regularly seen near the coast. The island and the strip on the mainland from around Giant’s Tank has become a magnet for bird watchers in search of species which are usually not found in the southern half of the island. These include members of the Deccan avi faunal species such as the Long-tailed Shrike (Rufous-rumped Shrike), Black Drongo, Crab Plover and the Indian Courser. Among birds, various species of butterflies, amphibians and reptiles are also found in Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park.
Medawachchiya Rest House